Sometimes you get your heart broken. Or as in my case, your heart explodes and ruins a perfectly good cookie sheet in the process. I should have known from the moment I concocted the idea to make individual flans that something would go awry. I just didn’t realize how many things would go awry at once.
My sister and I had decided to give a birthday bash for my mom. We threw her a surprise party last year for her 70th and experienced such moments of grandeur and euphoria that we were crazy enough to try it again. But this time we were inviting more guests. And my mom was now on a gluten-free diet. Can you feel the storm brewing?
Let me just say right now that I admire anyone on a gluten-free diet. After Mom’s Celiac disease diagnosis, her world turned upside down, and we discovered that trying to live under a vow of gluten abstinence is tough in small town America. Just when she thought she had successfully eliminated all forms of evil from her diet, she’d find betrayal in a jar of peanut butter or a can of cooking spray. I’m sure it would have driven her to drink, but we were terrified that Jack Daniels was probably manufactured on the same conveyor belt that also rolled Little Debbie snack cakes off the lines. So I knew going in that we would have to modify and even find new recipes in order for the birthday girl to be able to eat something besides cantaloupe and coffee grounds. But I thought that I had done it. You know how Proverbs says that pride goes before a fall? It also precedes a white hot mess in the kitchen, too.
I began with the mini flans. The recipe seemed simple enough, and even though you were supposed to pour it into one large container, I foresaw no trouble with parceling that smooth goodness into individual tins. So I lined those little heart-shaped tins along the cookie sheet, filled them to the brim, and slid them into the oven. That accomplished, I turned my attention to the baby banana puddings.
I scrutinized the recipe, did some math in my head, and decided how much I needed to create 24 masterpieces, each which could easily be cradled in your hand. I calculated and thought it would be enough. I double checked and was sure it would be enough. I mentally spooned homemade pudding into each of those dessert dishes and knew it would be enough. It wasn’t enough. And now not only did I need to make more pudding, I was falling behind on wrapping the asparagus in prosciutto and it was already past 10pm. I exhaled enough emotion to ruffle the dish towel on the counter.
I lit into making the pudding for a second time when I thought to take a peek at the flans. Big mistake. I don’t know what was going on in that oven, but it was custard gone wild. The baby hearts had thrown up in every direction and looked a tiny bit sunburned on top. It was Flan Spring Break 2013 in there, and there was nothing to do but cuff them and haul their little sweetened condensed tushes out of there.
It went downhill from there. The tea cakes rejected their jelly fillings out of sheer spite, or maybe from inspiration from their flan predecessors, the prosciutto froze around the asparagus stalks simply because they couldn’t have the shelf they wanted in the refrigerator, and the excess flan stuck to my cookie sheet like Hubba Bubba to a ponytail. If I hadn’t been Baptist, I sure enough would have been drunk.
But the next day brought an entirely different outcome. Women poured into my sister’s lake house and cooed compliments over everything they tasted. They loved the decorations, lauded the food and laughed so hard I was afraid they might crack a rib. My favorite statement came when one of them stood up and announced, “Well, I’ve just never tasted so many good things in all my life. But I think I’m going to have to have a Bean-O to keep it at bay. Anybody else while I’m digging them out?”
I guess if people eat so much that medication is required to counteract the good time, a little kitchen mishap is all worth it.